January 22, 2022

UK: Public Library Budgets Fall By £25 Million in One Year

From The Guardian:

A brutal year for the UK’s public libraries has been topped off with the revelation that the sector took a £25m [approx. $31 million/USD] hit to its budgets in the year to March, as calculated in official figures released on Wednesday. The number of public libraries still open reached a 10-year low, while visitor numbers slid by 15 million. Book budgets were also severely hit, taking an 8.4% fall over the period. Critics claimed the cuts endanger the long-term survival of the sector.

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) released the figures as part of its annual survey of library authorities in the UK.

Read the Complete Article (approx. 950 words)

More From the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA):

  • Number of libraries fell by 1.7% year on year, from 3,917 (2014/15) to 3,850 (2015/16).
  • Total visits dropped 5.5%, from 265 million (2014/5) to 250 million (2015/16).
  • Total expenditure for Great Britain library services fell by £25m, from £944m (2014/15) to £919m (2015/16).
  • FTE paid library staff fell by 5.3% between 2014/15 and 2015/16, from 18,028 to 17,064. Volunteer numbers rose by 7.5% during the period, from 41,402 to 44,501.

This year’s findings echo a five-year trend of decline. Libraries across Great Britain have seen a 14% reduction in total net expenditure, from £979m in 2011/12 to £842m in 2015/16. Meanwhile, there has also been 16.2% fewer visitors in five years, from 299 million in 2011/12 to 250 million in 2015/16.

The top five most visited libraries across England, Scotland and Wales over the last year were:

  1. Library of Birmingham, Birmingham: 1,602,070 visits.
  2. Central Library, Manchester: 1,480,941 visits.
  3. Wembley, Brent: 1,381,032 visits.
  4. Norfolk & Norwich Millennium, Norfolk: 1,25,291 visits.
  5. Woolwich, Greenwich: 1,135,774 visits.

In terms of book or other loans, the top five libraries over the last year were:

  1. Norfolk & Norwich Millennium, Norfolk: 984,445.
  2. The Hive Worcester, Worcestershire: 827,061.
  3. Llanelli, Carmarthenshire: 555,712.
  4. Cambridge Central, Cambridgeshire: 501,594.
  5. Oxford Central, Oxfordshire: 462,536.

Reaction: As Spending on Public Libraries Falls CILIP Calls for Urgent Investment

Reaction: Society of Chief Librarians Response to CIPFA Statistics

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.